Torn meniscus injuries are common from car accidents and work injuries. The knee is the largest joint in the human body. Sustaining a knee injury can greatly affect mobility and one of the most common knee injuries you can suffer is a torn meniscus. There are two c-shaped pieces of cartilage in each knee that act as cushions between the thighbone and the shinbone. When one of these four cushions gets torn, the knee may feel unstable, stiff and painful. Rest and ice can help in some meniscal injuries, but many others require surgery.
Meniscus Tear Symptoms
If you have suffered a meniscal injury, you may hear a popping sound and experience swelling and stiffness. If you twisted or rotated your knee in an awkward manner, you may feel immediate pain as well.
Soon after, you will likely have difficulty straightening your knee and experience other movement restrictions. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor right away. You can cause more damage to your meniscus by continuing to move and put weight on it.
Causes of Meniscal Injuries
Any activity involving a forceful rotation of your knee can result in a torn meniscus. Turning, pivoting and stopping can all result in knee injuries. You can even tear your meniscus by squatting, kneeling or lifting something that is too heavy. These types of injuries often occur during exercise or during work-related manual labor activities. Athletes, particularly those playing basketball and football, are at risk of suffering knee injuries. Older individuals are more likely to suffer torn meniscus injuries as well because of years of wear and tear.
Diagnosing Torn Meniscus
In many cases, the immediate consequences of suffering a torn meniscus are clear during a physical exam. If it appears that the meniscus was damaged, your doctor will likely order additional tests. An x-ray will not reveal the damaged cartilage, but it could reveal additional problems with the knee. An ultrasound will allow the doctor to see inside the knee and look for loose cartilage. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can provide detailed images of the hard and soft tissues of the knee.
How to Treat a Torn Meniscus
Depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor may only recommend rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relief. You will have to avoid any activities that aggravate your injury and you may be required to use crutches to take pressure off your knee. Unfortunately, this type of conservative treatment is often not enough.
If your knee is painful even after a prolonged period of rest and therapy, your doctor may recommend surgery. In some cases, a torn meniscus can actually be repaired. In other circumstances, a surgeon will trim the meniscus or perform arthroscopic surgery.
Arthroscopic surgery is when an instrument called an arthroscope is inserted into the knee through a small incision. The arthroscope contains a camera and a light and allows doctors to see inside the knee and what repairs need to be made. All surgeries are serious, but arthroscopic surgery has a much faster recovery time than open knee procedures. Even so, recovery typically takes a number of weeks or even months after which the patient will need physical therapy to regain strength and mobility.
Protecting Your Rights
The expenses related to knee injuries can add up quickly. Surgeries, for example, are extremely expensive, even for those with adequate health insurance coverage. Recovery often lasts months and victims typically have to spend long periods of time away from work as they heal. Some victims are not able to return to work because of their knee injuries and the physical demands of their occupation.
If you have suffered a meniscal tear in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence, you may be able to receive monetary support. A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit that you can file against the party responsible for your suffering. A successful claim can result in financial compensation for all your past, current and future medical bills related to the injury.
Compensation may also be available for lost wages, loss of earning potential and lost future wages. In serious injury accidents, support may even be available for non-economic losses such as physical pain and mental anguish. Those who have suffered a debilitating knee injury would be well advised to get the help, guidance and resources they need in order to protect their rights and best interests.